KidsMD Health Topics

Allergic Colitis in Children

  • Many babies are fussy eaters, but some are much more so than others. If your baby seems constantly irritable, has problems feeding (she has difficulty keeping food down and/or doesn’t want to eat) or has excessive gassiness, diarrhea and/or blood in his stools, he may be allergic to proteins in cow’s milk. This condition, which only affects babies, is called allergic colitis. The good news is that for the vast majority of children, it is just temporary.

    In allergic colitis, the milk proteins cause a reaction within your baby’s body that irritates his colon (large intestine) and creates small ulcerations in its lining. If left untreated, it can lead to serious problems, so it’s important to diagnose and treat it early. Fortunately, once identified, allergic colitis is quite easy to treat.

    • Allergic colitis is also sometimes called “cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA)” or “milk protein allergy.”

    • Two to three percent of infants have this condition.

    • While symptoms may appear until a baby turns 6 months old, most babies show signs within the first two months of life. In most babies, the symptoms start off mild and gradually worsen.

    • Allergic colitis is treated by removing the protein from your baby’s diet, and it usually disappears by the time the child turns 1.

    • Medication can help your baby’s reflux until she outgrows it.

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches allergic colitis

    At Children’s, we treat babies with allergic colitis through our Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.  We’ve been treating children with GI conditions like allergic colitis for more than 65 years, and we’ve successfully cared for some of the most complex cases.

    Our specialty programs offer innovative care not available at other hospitals for children with chronic gastrointestinal and nutritional problems. We offer a full range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and have a state-of-the-art endoscopy and motility unit. Whether your child’s allergic colitis is mild or severe, you’re in good hands with us. Call 617-355-6058 for an appointment.

    Allergic colitis: Reviewed by Elizabeth Hait, MD, MPH
    © Children’s Hospital Boston, 2010

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  • 1-617-355-6058
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